Abbott pledges to avoid new battles with senate crossbench

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has pledged not to raise any new battles with the Senate crossbench unless they are essential, after emerging victorious from a backbench uprising against his leadership on Monday.

After weeks of speculation about his grip on power, the Liberal Party voted to maintain the party's leadership.

While Mr Abbott secured enough support to defeat the spill motion, at 61-39, the divided vote could embolden any future contenders.

READ MORE: Rebel MPs fall into line behind Abbott after spill defeated

Opposition leader Bill Shorten used Question Time in parliament to attack Mr Abbott. Mr Shorten asked him how he could say he had a mandate given his colleagues "lack of confidence" in his leadership.

Mr Abbott said the people had voted for him and the Coalition to take office at the 2013 election, and given him a "mandate" to lead.

But that mandate remains in question internally, as backbenchers demanded he consulted more outside of his own office and the Cabinet.

West Australian backbencher Luke Simpkins, who moved the motion for a spill, said the 39 votes supporting his motion was a "strong showing that we were not happy with the prime minister in a number of areas".

It is understood Mr Abbott told the party room after the vote that he would consult more with party members, as well as with the medical profession over Medicare reforms.

Mr Abbott said he had already abandoned his signature paid parental leave policy due to backbench pressure. He described the party room meeting as "a chastening experience" and promised to improve his performance.

"I have changed and the government will change," he said.

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